fiddle leaf fig brown spots

Ultimate Care Guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots

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The New York Times called the Fiddle Leaf Fig the most popular plant in the design world. But the author also added that it is one of those houseplants that are equivalent to a newborn.

Chosen primarily for its good looks, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is not easy to grow and maintain. You will find in this article our Ultimate Care Guide (and tips) to Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots, helping you become a winner plant parent for your ‘newborn.’

What Are the Essentials for your Fiddle Leaf Plant

To grow into a healthy houseplant, be sure to place it in a room with a bright indirect light. Avoid putting the fiddle leaf fig in a dimly lit room as this affects the plant’s health. Other essential requirements that you need to check to include:

  • Potting the plant in well-drained soil;
  • Examine the soil from time to time for water to ensure the soil is not dry;
  • Maintain the temperature in the room between 45 and 95 °F; and
  • Make sure there is enough humidity in the room and aeration in the potting soil.

When you tick all the boxes of the basic requirements of your fiddle leaf plant, you are already a step ahead to growing a healthy and richly verdant-looking plant.

Botanical NameFicus lyrata
OriginWestern Africa
SunlightDirect sunlight
WateringOnce a week
SoilWell-draining soil
Temperature45 and 95 °F
PropagationStem or cuttings and air layering
Re-PottingEvery 1 to 2 years
Pests and DiseasesNot very susceptible to pests, toxins, diseases, or other problems
ToxicityToxic to dogs and cats if ingested

What Causes Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaves

As a novice in the world of indoor greenery, you have to understand the origin and natural habitat of your houseplant. Also known as Ficus Lyrata, the fiddle leaf traces its origin in Western Africa. They are popular flowering species in the region belonging to the Moraceae family.

The best features of the fiddle leaf are its thin trunk, luscious green foliage, and big, compact leaves, which make this plant ideal for indoor and outdoor decorative fixtures.

However, one of the most common challenges that you will face growing this plant is the so-called Fiddle Leaf Brown Spots. Here are the four (4) primary reasons that cause the browning on the fiddle leaves:

  1. Root rot due to fungal infection;
  2. Bacterial infection;
  3. Plant Dryness; and
  4. Insect damage or pest infestation.

The first this to do is to check the affected parts of the plant. Ask yourself the following questions: Is the temperature in the room maintained conducive to the health and growth of the fiddle leaf fig tree? How’s your watering routine and the direct sunlight availability of the tree?

When you have done your initial check-up of the plant and pinpointed possible causes of the browning, you can start taking steps to overcome the issues and apply the appropriate treatment to grow a thriving, healthy plant.

But before that, let us take a quick look at all of the causes in detail.

Root Rot Due to fungal infection

This infection happens when the roots of the plant stay in too much water for too long. Therefore, it is vital to pot the plant in well-drained soil to prevent the propagation of fungus that can cause fungal root rot.

Fiddle leaf fig brown spots can be avoided by placing the plant in a container with rapid soil drainage. Otherwise, poor drainage of soil and too much amount of water can cause infection in the roots. Once infection occurs, it travels throughout the plant and eventually starts dark brown spots on the leaves, which will eventually fall off.

How to Know if Your Plant Is Suffering From Root Rot

There are two methods to check for root rot, depending on the stage of browning of the affected leaves. If the light brown spots are not yet too advanced, then you probably have a root rotting problem at the initial stage. When this is the case, there is no need for repotting or removing the pot and soil to inspect the roots. You simply need to look out for the usual signs and symptoms.

The second method is pretty straightforward. When the brown spots look severe, you have to take the plant out of the pot to have a clear inspection of the roots. If you brown and mushy roots, then it is a sure indication of rotting.

Signs and Symptoms of Root Rot

There are two main symptoms due to fungal infection to look out for:

  • Older leaves are more susceptible to fungal infection due to root rot. New leaves of the plant are the secondary target. Check on the lower sides of the stem to see if the leaves there have small black spots that are getting large and brown, which is a certain indication of root rot.
  • Falling of leaves is another most common sign of infected roots. So when the leaves are spotted and falling off, it is about time to check the plant for root rot.

How to Avoid Root Rot

The solution to this problem is to keep the potting soil well-drained, the room well-lit, and the humidity high. Be mindful also of your watering routine and the accessibility of sunlight for the plant.

When Is Repotting Necessary

Repotting becomes a must when you have a severe case of root rotting. Just remove the fiddle leaf figs plant out of the pot. Get a sharp cutter to surgically remove the infected mushy roots and leaves, then repot the plant.

Place the repotted plant in a well-lit room without water for about two weeks. Afterward, be sure to avoid over-watering the plant. Instead, just put enough water to ensure the soil is not dry and avoid poor drainage.

When Is Repotting Not Necessary

Root rot is treatable if you catch it early. If the fiddle leaf fig brown spots are not severe, or the browning spots have just started, you can treat the infected plant without the need for repotting. Use your cutter to remove the spotted leaves carefully and put them in a well-lit room.

Drained the excess water in the pot for about two weeks, or maybe more if necessary, until the soil and the roots get dry. If you have a moisture meter at home, use it to check the soil’s levels of wetness or dryness. At this time, treatment is successful when you see no further spotting in leaves.

Other Treatment Options

There are a variety of medicinal treatments and root supplements available in the market. You can even order one from Amazon.

Bacterial Infection

This is one of the most challenging health issues in the plant. Early detection of bacterial infections in the plant is the key to treating this condition successfully. When you see the signs and symptoms of infection, treat the spots as early as you can. This will prevent further damage from occurring.

How you fix this problem is similar to how you treat root rot. First, the roots of the plant should be properly dried out between waterings, for example. Then, afterward, put the plant in a place where it gets plenty of sunlight, but not too much sun.

If the brown spots are not yet severe, remove the leaves with brown spots carefully with a cutter. Then, repot the plant with fresh soil in a pot with good drainage and aeration. Place it in a place with plenty of light. Nourish the plant back to health by watering it until it recovers.

Consider using indoor plant healthy supplements or indoor plant cleaner spray, which are designed to protect your houseplants from bacteria, fungus, and insects.

The worst-case scenario is when more than 50% of your houseplant’s leaves are affected by brown spots, you may consider starting over if this happens, especially when the condition is spreading. Starting fresh with a healthy specimen will save you a lot of headaches.

Signs and Symptoms of Bacterial Infection

  • Irregular shaped brown spots and cracking leaves 
  • Coloration is lighter brown rather than black.
  • Yellowing spread to the entire leaf rather than concentrated splotches.

How to Fix Bacterial Infection

Cut off the infected leaves to prevent spreading. Although this is not usually recommended, if you detect the problem early, you might be able to save your plant. Use a sharp cutter or pruning shears to do this.

Repot the plant in fresh soil. You have to make sure to use a clean pot when repotting. Get rid of the old soil. The old dirt will not be able to transmit harmful bacteria to the new clean soil.

Put the plant in a room that gets indirect sunlight. It will greatly aid in the recovery process of the plant after pruning and repotting.

Keep your watering routine at a minimum. Bacteria spread faster in the water, so it is best to go easy while the plant is recovering. But do not let the plant dry out.

Other Treatment Options

There are antibacterial medicines to treat the plant available in the market. You can buy this in powdered or liquid form. Others also use bactericides that contain copper compounds to control bacterial diseases.

Plant Dryness

Fiddle leaf fig brown spots due to dryness are easier to diagnose. You can detect this when you see dry or lighter brown areas starting at the edge of the leaf, which causes the leaf to curl.

Your plant may look dry or wilted at times. There may also be some sign of shrinkage in the soil. This causes the water to run between the soil and the pot but never reach the root ball.

How to Fix Dryness

Consider adjusting your watering routine. Underwatering or if the plant is placed in a dry environment, brown spots can occur. You have to keep in mind that the amount of water a plant need varies at certain times of the year!

Maintain adequate humidity. The plant thrives best in humidity between 30-65%. If the humidity level at home is much lower, you may want to use misting for your plant or relocate the plant in a much humid environment.

Insect Damage or Infestation

Thankfully, fiddle fig brown spots due to insect infestation are less common. However, look out for small dark spots that damage the fiddle leaf fig leaves to check for insect damage. This happens more often in the new, tender growth.

Use a magnifying glass to look for evidence of insects living on your plants, such as honeydew caused by aphids, gray insect webs by spider mites, or puffy balls from bugs. If you find any, you will know this is the cause of the brown spot.

How to Fix Insect Infestation

Use Neem Oil to combat these buggers. Spray a moderate amount of pure Neem oil where the insect infestation occurs. A Neem oil spray is a natural remedy to eliminate insect damage to the plant.

Pesticide treatment. Whatever level of infestation, there are different varieties of insecticides and pesticides available in the market.

Manual removal. This is great if you only have one plant at home. Then, you can just remove the bugs, spiders, or insects with cotton or gloves.


Despite the extra attention this trendy houseplant requires, it is well worth the effort. As a proud houseplant parent, there is nothing quite like this potted plant to make a big personal statement with those big fiddle leaf fig leaves without taking up too much space.

With this Ultimate Care Guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots, we hopefully save you the hassle and headaches of taking good care of your “newborn” plant.

Last Updated on February 3, 2022 by Gustaf Johansson

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